Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trauma Plan by Candace Calvert

Trauma Plan
by Candace Calvert
Grace Medical, Book 1
Contemporary Christian / Romance
Available May 2012
Tyndale House
416 pages

About the Book
Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

My Thoughts
What is it about this medical suspense genre that I love so much? And Candace Calvert in particular! Perhaps it's because I feel like she combines the drama (medical and personal!) of shows like ER or Grey's Anatomy with realistic characters, sweet romance, and intriguing mysteries—all against a backdrop of faith. Trauma Plan is no exception.

Riley desperately wants to return to her former duties as an ER trauma nurse. However, injuries have sidelined her and she feels "stuck" in her job as ER chaplain. When Dr. Jack Travis gives her an opportunity to prove herself and hone her skills at his free clinic, she reluctantly accepts his offer. Between the community trying to shut the clinic down and the tension between Riley and Jack, sparks are flying everywhere! As they get to know each other, a fragile trust forms—and is jeopardized when Jack's past comes out.

Wow. Candace Calvert delivers again in Trauma Plan. Riley and Jack were fantastic characters, and I loved getting both of their perspectives throughout the book. Candace does a great job of creating flawed characters that are likeable yet real. The secondary characters in this novel were excellent as well and at times stole the show. Bandy, the formerly homeless man who helps at the shelter, and his gimpy dog Hobo were wonderful additions to this cast of characters. While the book wasn't as suspenseful as I expected, the romance and faith elements were strong and it worked out to be the perfect mix.

As always I highly recommend this Candace Calvert novel and look forward to reading more in this series!  [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, she makes her home in northern California.

Candace Calvert Online
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FIRST Wildcard Blog Tour | Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley

Mary's Blessing
by Lena Nelson Dooley
McKenna's Daughters, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available May 2012
Charisma Media
304 pages

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

About the Book
Mary Lenora Murray was adopted by parents who had recently lost a child while on the last wagon train west in 1867. When she is thirteen years old, Mary’s mother and her two older sisters die in the cholera pandemic, leaving her the oldest child with four younger siblings to raise. Her father, in his grief, pours himself into keeping the farm going, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.

My Thoughts
Ever since I finished reading Maggie's Journey, the first book in the McKenna's Daughters series, I have been anxiously awaiting the chance to read the next book. Let me assure you that Mary's Blessing did NOT disappoint!

In Mary's Blessing, we are introduced to Mary Lenora Murray, the second of three McKenna sisters. Mary was given up for adoption at birth and has been taking care of her father and younger siblings since her adoptive mother passed away when Mary was thirteen. She thinks she sees a way out when a longtime friend asks permission to court her. When her father has an accident, she must figure how she can balance taking care of her siblings, nursing her father back to health, and following her heart.

Lena Nelson Dooley has written an incredible novel. I really felt a connection with Mary loved her relationship with Daniel. Her relationship with her father and siblings frustrated the fire out of me at first, but they grew on me. Even when I hated the things they did/said, I felt like I understood were coming from.

The church was such an incredible component of this novel too. I felt like this was a wonderful picture of how the church should be—helping one another through difficult times, challenging each other, seeing the bad and the good. The entire novel clearly demonstrates our need for God and our need to live in community with others.

At times I felt like the setting and characters were reminiscent of the TV show Little House on the Prairie and in a way it made me feel like I was coming home to familiar friends. I can't wait to read the conclusion of this fantastic series! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Charisma House and FIRST Wildcard Tours in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning author with more than 650,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers—where she received the Mentor of the Year award in 2006—DFW Ready Writers, and Christian Authors Network. She lives in Hurst, Texas, with her husband of over 45 years.

Lena Nelson Dooley Online

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter


"Pa?” Mary Lenora Murray shouted back over her shoulder as she picked up the heavy picnic basket. “You ready to go?” Why does he always drag his feet when we’re going to

Her father came through the mud room into the kitchen, letting the screen door slam shut behind him. He smelled of heat, hay, and sunshine, with the strong tang of muck from the barn mingled in. By the looks of his clothes, attending church was the farthest thing from his mind. His ratty trousers held smudges of several dark colors. She didn’t even want to guess what they were. And the long sleeves of his undershirt, the only thing covering his torso, were shoved above his elbows. Grayed and dingy, the shirt would never be white again, no matter how hard she tried to get it clean.

Mary bit her tongue to keep from scolding him as she did her younger brothers and sister when they made such a racket entering the house. No doubt he would give her some excuse about having too much work to go to church. Not a big surprise. She’d heard it all before too many times.

He set a bucket of fresh water beside the dry sink and gripped his fingers around the front straps of his suspenders. That always signaled he was about to tell her something she didn’t want to hear.

“I’m not going today.” This time he didn’t really make any excuses, just this bald-faced comment.

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm her anger. She’d give him a sweet answer even if the words tasted bitter in her mouth. “The new pastor is coming today. We’re having dinner on the grounds after the service. Remember, I told you when we got home last Sunday.” She flashed what she hoped was a warm smile at him and prayed he couldn’t tell it was fake.

“What happened to the last one? He didn’t last very long, did he?” Pa started washing his hands with the bar of homemade soap she kept in a dish on the shelf. “Don’t understand why that church can’t keep a pastor. Someone musta run him off.”

Mary couldn’t keep from huffing out a breath this time. “I told you about that too.” She clamped her lips closed before she asked the question that often bounced around her mind. Why don’t you ever listen to me? At seventeen she was close enough to being an adult to be treated like one, and she’d carried the load of a woman in this household for years.

“His wife died, and his father-in-law begged him to bring the grandchildren closer to where they live, so he headed back to Ohio. Living in the same community as their grandparents, he’d have a lot of help with the younger ones.”

Mary had never known her own grandparents, none of them. Not her mother’s parents. Not her father’s parents. Not the parents of whoever gave birth to her. She didn’t wonder about any of them very often, but today her heart longed for someone who really loved her.

With bright red curly hair and fair skin that freckled more every time she stepped into the sunlight, she didn’t resemble anyone in this family that had adopted her as an infant. Since they were black Irish, they all had dark hair and striking blue eyes, not like her murky green ones. And none of them had ever wanted to know what she thought about anything—except her mother.

“Well, I’ve gotta lot to do today.” Her father reached for the towel she’d made out of feed sacks. “You and the others go ahead. I might come over that way at dinner time.”

No, you won’t. Mary had heard his statement often enough to know he was trying to placate her so she would leave him alone. So she would.

“Frances, George, Bobby, come on. We don’t want to be late.”

She shifted the handle of the loaded basket to her other arm. “Frances, you grab the jug of spring water. We might get thirsty.” Her father’s icy blue eyes pierced her. “Pretty warm out today.
No sign of rain.”

“We’ll be picnicking in the field between the church and Willamette Falls. It’s cooler there, especially under the trees with the breeze blowing across the water.” She started toward the front door.

“Keep your eyes on the boys.” His harsh command followed her. “Don’t let either of them fall into the river. They could drown. Water’s fast right there.”

She nodded but didn’t answer or look back at him. All he cared about were those boys and getting them raised old enough to really help with the farming. He already worked them harder than any of the neighbors did their sons who were the same ages.

Six long years ago her mother and older sisters contracted diphtheria when they went to help Aunt Miriam and Uncle Leland settle in their house on a farm about five miles from theirs. On the trip to Oregon one of them had contracted the dread disease and didn’t know it until after they arrived. No one knew they were all dead until Pa went looking for Ma, Carrie, and Annette a couple of days later. He saw the quarantine sign someone nailed to a fence post and didn’t go closer until he had help. When he came home, he told Mary she would have to take over the keeping of the house. Six long years ago.

When did my life become such drudgery? Had it ever been anything else? At least not since Ma died, which seemed like an eternity ago.

Daniel Winthrop whistled while he dressed for church. He looked forward with anticipation to the moment when he would lay eyes on Mary Murray. Even her name had a musical ring to it.

He’d been waiting and planning what to say when he approached her. Today he would start his subtle courting. With the situation at the Murray farm, he knew he would have his work cut out for him to convince her she could start a life of her own with him. After he achieved that, he’d ask her father for her hand.

Visions of coming home to her each night and building a family together moved through his head like the slides of photographs in the Holmes stereopticon they had at home. He loved her already, but more than that, he wanted to get her out of that house, where she was loaded down with so much work and responsibility.

Daniel had often gone with his mother when she bought fresh produce from the Murrays, so he knew what her life had been like since her mother died. Their families came to Oregon on the same wagon train, so he’d known her all his life. He was only three years older than she was, and he had watched her over the last few years as she blossomed into a beautiful young woman.

Mary needed to be appreciated and cared for, and he was just the man to do it.

“Daniel, we’re leaving soon.” His father’s voice prodded him from his dreams.

With a final peek into the tall cheval glass, he straightened his necktie before he headed out the door of his room. “I’m on my way.”

He bounded down the stairs and took their picnic basket from his mother. “Something really smells good.” He gave a loud sniff. “Do you need me to test and make sure it’s all right?”

He welcomed her playful slap on his hand that crept toward the cover on the basket. Her laughter reminded him of the chimes he had heard in the larger church in Portland.

“Not a single bite until dinner.” Like a queen, she swept out the door Father held open for her.

Their familiar ritual warmed his heart. He looked forward to creating family rituals with Mary. Once more he whistled as he headed toward the brougham. Nothing could cloud his day.

When they pulled up to the Methodist church, his father guided the team toward the back, where a large area paved with fine gravel gave plenty of space for those who arrived in horsedrawn vehicles. While Father helped Mother down from the open carriage, Daniel took the reins and tied them to one of the hitching rails that outlined the space. He chose the rail under a spreading black cottonwood tree where the limbs were just beginning to show the leaf buds.

He scanned the lot, looking for the Murray wagon. Not there. Disappointed, he stared at the ground. Please, God, let Mary come today.

Clopping hoofs and a jingling harness accompanied a wagon taking too fast of a turn into the parking area. Daniel cut his eyes toward the advancing disaster. Two of the wheels did indeed lift from the ground. Before he could get a shout out of his mouth, he heard Mary’s sweet voice.
“Lean to the right, boys!”

George and Bobby, Mary’s brothers, scrambled across the seat, followed by Frances. The wagon wheels settled into the gravel, and Mary pulled on the reins. “Easy. Settle down.” Even though she spoke to the horses, he heard every word.

His heart that had almost leapt from his chest also settled down when he realized she was no longer in danger. Thank You, Lord.

The wagon came to a standstill, and Mary put her dainty hand to her chest and released a deep breath. The green cotton fabric, sprigged with white flowers, looked good on her, setting off her red hair, pulled up into a bunch on the top of her head. Without a hat or bonnet covering it, the sun danced across the curls. He loved seeing the wisps frame her face. That’s how he pictured her when he dreamed about their future.

Mary sat a moment without moving. She was probably scared out of her wits. Where was her father? He should have been driving the wagon, not her. How long had it been since the man had attended services? Daniel couldn’t remember the last time. It was not a good thing for a man to neglect his spiritual nature. He’d just have to pray harder for Mr. Murray.

Daniel hurried toward them. “Hi, Mary.”

She looked up, straight into his eyes, fear still flickering in the back of her gaze. “Daniel. Good morning.” Her words came out riding on short breaths.

He took hold of the bridle of the horse nearest him. “I can hitch your team under the trees for you.”
After releasing another deep breath, Mary nodded. “Thank you. I’d like that.” She turned toward her siblings. “Frances, you get the picnic basket, and George, you carry the jug of water. Go find us a pew, perhaps near the back of the sanctuary, and put the things under the bench. I’ll be right in.”

The younger children climbed out of the wagon and followed their sister’s instructions. Mary watched them until they’d gone around the side of the building toward the front. Then she stood up.

Before she could try to climb over the side, Daniel hurried to help. He held out his hand to her. She stared at it, then looked at his face.

“I’ll help you down.” He gave her his most beguiling smile. For the first time since she arrived, she smiled back, and pink bled up her neck into her cheeks. Her blush went straight to his heart. Oh, yes, he loved this woman.

Mary slipped her slim fingers into his hand. Even through the white cotton gloves, he felt the connection as warmth sparked up his arm like fireworks on Independence Day. She glanced down so she could see the step. When she hesitated, he let go of her hand and both of his spanned her tiny waist. With a deft swing, he had her on the ground in seconds. He wished he had the right to pull her into an embrace. Wouldn’t that just set the tongues a-wagging? He couldn’t do that to her. Mary needed to be cherished for the treasure she was. And as far as Daniel could see, her father really didn’t treat her that way.

He watched her walk toward the front of the building, enjoying the way her skirt swayed with each step, barely brushing the tops of her black patent shoes. That is one beautiful woman. He turned back to her team. Walking beside the horses, he led them toward the hitching rail where his family’s brougham was parked, hoping it would give him the opportunity to help her back up onto the wagon seat. As he crossed the lot, several other conveyances entered, and he waved and exchanged greetings with each family.

The church was the first one established in Oregon City. At that time, it was the Methodist Mission but grew as the town did. Along the way, members of this body had a great influence on what happened in the burgeoning city. And that was still true today. His Winthrop ancestors, who settled nearby, had been instrumental in both the growth of the church and of the town. He felt a sense of pride at being a part of something that important, and he wanted to increase the town’s assets, because he planned to raise his own family here. Maybe establish a dynasty of his own, watching his sons and daughters, then his grandchildren, prosper.

His woolgathering slowed the progress of tying the horses to their spot. He needed to hurry so he wouldn’t miss the beginning of the service. As he opened the front door, Mrs. Slidell struck the first chord on the new Mason and Hamlin reed organ. The church had ordered the instrument from the manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York. When it arrived only a couple of weeks before, the music added a special feeling to the worship and helped most people stay on the right tune better than the old piano did. He hummed along with the introduction to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” his favorite hymn.

Glancing around the room, Daniel finally spied Mary and her siblings sitting on the second pew from the back on the right side of the aisle. He squared his shoulders and confidently approached the wooden bench. He asked if he could sit with them, and she scooted over to make room. Just what he wanted. He would be sitting right beside her.

Throughout the service, Daniel had a hard time keeping his mind on the proceedings. Mary sat close enough for him to touch her if he leaned a little to his right. He was so tempted to bump against her arm, but he held back. He imagined clasping her hand in his and holding it for longer than just a few seconds while helping her down from a conveyance or through a doorway, really wrapping his large fingers around hers and intertwining their fingers. Just thinking about it caught his breath.

He whooshed it out, and she turned toward him, her eyes wid- ening with a question. After flashing a smile at her, he glanced up at Rev. Horton. The man’s delivery was smooth, and his words
made a lot of sense. He’d be a good pastor for them, but Daniel couldn’t keep a single word of his message in his mind. Not while he could feel Mary’s presence with every cell in his body.

Instead, in his mind he searched up and down the streets of Oregon City, seeking a place to turn into a home for him and his beloved. If the right house wasn’t for sale, he could build her one. She could help him choose the design. That’s what he’d do. Build her the home she’d always dreamed of. His heart squeezed with the knowledge of what he planned to do. He could hardly keep the idea to himself. He hoped it wouldn’t take too long for him to convince her that they should marry.

He’d even hire servants to help her manage their home. Whatever her heart desired, he’d do everything he could to present her with all she wanted. He only hoped it wouldn’t take too long. At twenty years old, he was ready to move on to the next phase of his life—with Mary by his side.

“Now let us bow our heads in prayer.” Rev. Horton raised his hands to bless the whole congregation.

Daniel dropped his head toward his chest. How had the man finished his sermon without Daniel noticing? Next Sunday he’d have to listen more closely. He really did want to get to know the new pastor and his family.

“Amen.” After the pastor pronounced the word, several other men echoed it.

Daniel watched his father rise from the second pew near the front on the left side of the aisle and take his place beside the new preacher. He placed his arm across the man’s shoulders. “Dear friends, on your behalf, I welcome our new pastor. Now let’s all meet his lovely family.” He waved toward a woman sitting on the front pew. “Mrs. Horton?”

The woman stood and turned toward the congregation. She was pretty, but not as young or as pretty as Mary.

“And,” Father’s voice boomed, “these are their children.”

Four stair-step youngsters stood beside their mother. The tallest, a boy. The next, a girl. Then another boy, and the shortest, a cute little girl. As if they had rehearsed it, they bowed toward the people in unison.

Several women across the sanctuary oooed or aahed before a loud round of applause broke out. The three oldest children gave shy smiles, and the youngest tugged at her mother’s skirts. When Mrs. Horton picked her up, the girl waved to the people, clearly enjoying the attention.

“I hope you all brought your blankets and picnic baskets.” Father beamed at the crowd. “We’re going to spread our food together. I believe there are plenty of sawhorse tables set up near the building. And you can pick a spot under the trees to settle for your meal. Just don’t forget to take the time to greet our new ministerial family while you’re here.” Father led the Horton family down the aisle and out the front door.

Daniel turned back toward Mary. “Perhaps you and your brothers and sister could spread your blanket beside my family’s.” A tiny smile graced Mary’s sweet mouth. “If you’re sure your
mother wouldn’t mind, I’d like that.”

“Oh, yes. I’m sure.” He stepped into the nearly empty aisle and moved back to let Mary and her family precede him, and he quickly followed behind.

His heartbeat accelerated just thinking about spending special time with the object of his affections. Without thinking, he started whistling a happy tune.

Mary glanced back at him. “I didn’t know you whistled.”

“Oh, yes. I’m a man of many talents.” His heart leapt at the interest he read in her gaze. Things were well on their way to working out just the way he wanted them to.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All you have to do is answer three quick questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? Easy enough, right? Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston is a new young adult Amish story. So far, it's really great!
What did you recently finish reading? I've been reading some really great suspense lately and The Chase by DiAnn Mills is no exception!

What do you think you'll read next? I'm looking forward to the conclusion of Martha Rogers' series Seasons of the Heart series, Spring Hope.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FIRST Wildcard Blog Tour | The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson

The Anniversary Waltz
by Darrel Nelson
Historical Christian Fiction / Romance
Available May 2012
Charisma House
304 pages

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

About the Book
It’s the summer of 1946, and Adam Carlson has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. Despite the strained relationship with his father, Adam sets out to revive the dilapidated family farm, neglected since his departure overseas four years ago. After some convincing to take a rest from his labors, he attends the town festival, where he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.

My Thoughts
The Anniversary Waltz starts as Adam and Elizabeth celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary. As they do every year, they tell their family and friends the story of how they met and fell in love. Flashing back to 1946—just after the end of World War II—the story begins as Adam returns home after four years at war. Not sure what to expect when he returns home, all he wants to do is settle back into a normal routine in his hometown of Reunion, Montana. What he doesn't expect is to meet Elizabeth Baxter—and fall in love with her.

Darrel Nelson has a fantastic talent for story-telling. Adam and Elizabeth's story is funny, poignant, tragic, and romantic. Readers will enjoy stepping back into post-World War II USA and meeting a variety of characters from this small town. While the story started out a little slow, I quickly found myself totally involved. Just as I thought the story was coming to an end, the author threw me for a curve and took the story to a whole new level. Combining a unique writing style with interesting characters, relatable themes, and a romance that stands the test of time, The Anniversary Waltz is a novel that will have you staying up late to read "just one more page" and completely satisfied once it's over. If this is what Darrel Nelson produces as a debut, I can't wait to read his next book! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Charisma House and FIRST Wildcard Tours in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Darrel Nelson is a graduate of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, with bachelor’s degrees in English and education. He is a schoolteacher by profession, with thirty-three years of teaching experience, and currently teaches fourth grade at Raymond Elementary School. Nelson has had an article published in Lethbridge Magazine and has written several dramatic plays, two of which won provincial recognition and were showcased at a drama festival. He won the CJOC radio songwriting contest two years running and has had one song receive international airplay. Writing has always been a passion, and over the years he has written four novels intended for the juvenile market. They are unpublished as yet, but he reads them annually to his fourth-grade students. The Anniversary Waltz is his first novel intended for the adult market. Darrel makes his home in Raymond, Alberta, Canada.

Darrel Nelson Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook


July 1946

Adam Carlson shifted in his seat on the Greyhound bus and stared wearily out the window. He couldn’t remember being this tired, not even during the heaviest part of the fighting in Italy. But he was too excited to close his eyes now. He had finally received his discharge and was almost home. The return voyage across the Atlantic by army transport ship made him seasick, and the four-day journey across the country by train seemed to last forever. But that was all behind him, compartmen- talized in his memory along with a thousand other images he would just as soon forget. All that remained was the thirty-mile bus ride north from Great Falls.

Running a hand through his wavy, brown hair, he studied the landscape he hadn’t seen in four years—except in his dreams. And he had dreamed about his hometown of Reunion, Montana, a great deal, especially while lying under the stars at night and smelling the earthy aroma of freshly dug foxholes. Those were the times he wondered if he would ever see the Great Plains again or feel the wind on his face. He ached to see the Rocky Mountains and gaze at the foothills as they merged with the plains and stretched eastward into infinity. This was the country he loved, the country for which he had fought. Big Sky Country—a corner of heaven.

He noticed a hawk in the distance, riding the invisible current on graceful wings, circling above a stand of cottonwood trees. At that moment, he decided, it had been worth it—all of it.

Even though he had enlisted against his father’s wishes.

As the son of Hector Carlson, dry land farmer, Adam hadn’t needed to enlist. But he wanted to satisfy his sense of adven- ture. He wanted to see the world outside the farm’s boundaries, to answer the call of plain, old-fashioned patriotism. Remember Pearl Harbor! Laborers could be hired to bring in the harvest, he’d told his father, but who was going to go overseas and fight for a cause greater than one family’s run of bad luck?

Hector hadn’t accepted this reasoning, however. He tried to talk Adam into staying and helping run the farm. When his efforts proved futile, he gave up talking to his son at all. He didn’t come to see Adam off, nor did he write once in the four years Adam was away, not even a quick note scribbled at the bottom of the regular letters Adam received from his mother, Maude.

Adam shook the memory away and felt his heart rate quicken as the bus made the last turn leading into Reunion. The anticipation of meeting his parents made him feel strangely nervous. It was dreamlike, as unreal as the world he had just left.

His thoughts went to those who would not be returning. Sixteen of his friends and comrades had fallen in Europe and were now permanent occupants. They would be forever denied the thrill of a homecoming and the anticipation of getting on with their lives. They would never see the mountains again or watch the maturing fields of wheat sway in the wind like a planted ocean. In their memory he closed his eyes, fighting his emotions as the Greyhound turned onto Main Street and headed for the bus stop in front of the Reunion Mercantile.

Several people were waiting on the sidewalk, anxiously craning to see inside the bus. A face appeared in the barbershop window next door to the Mercantile, peering out to study the scene. Two doors down a woman clutching several garments paused before entering Yang’s Dry Cleaners and glanced toward the bus stop. In a small rural community like Reunion, where grain prices and the weather were the main topics of conversation, the arrival of the Greyhound attracted attention.

Inside the bus the driver announced, “Reunion. Please remember to take all your personal belongings. I’ll set your luggage on the curb.” He opened the door, and those who were get- ting off made their way forward.

Adam remained in his seat, looking out the window. He watched as each person emerged and was immediately engulfed by waiting arms. It was heartwarming to see people embrace, cry, and laugh all at the same time. He wondered if his father would be this demonstrative, but he already knew the answer to that.

The bus driver reappeared in the doorway a few minutes later. “Isn’t this your stop, soldier?” He smiled sympathetically. “Sometimes it’s as hard coming home as it is leaving, isn’t it?”

Adam nodded and eased his six-foot frame out of the seat. He put on his service cap and adjusted his uniform before making his way up the aisle.

“Good luck,” the driver said, patting him on the shoulder. Adam stood in the door of the bus for a moment, watching
the happy scene. A woman in a blue cotton dress made her way through the crowd. It took Adam a moment to recognize his mother. She had aged during the past four years and looked so frail that he wondered how she got through the crowd without being snapped like a dry twig.

“Adam . . . Adam!” she called, her voice filled with so much emotion she could hardly speak. Tears formed in her eyes and ran down her cheeks as Adam quickly descended the bus steps. She took him in her arms and embraced him with surprising strength. “Oh, my son, God has answered my prayers and brought you back to me.”

Adam held her for a long time, his eyes closed, his lips quivering. Maude silently wept on his shoulder and rubbed the tears with the back of her thin hand. Finally she held him at arm’s length as if unable to believe her eyes. Adam smiled reassuringly and gazed out over the crowd.

“He didn’t come,” she said, in answer to his unspoken question. Adam looked into his mother’s face. “But at least you came.” She reached up and stroked his cheek, her hand trembling.

“Of course I came. Wild horses couldn’t—” She changed the topic abruptly, likely realizing it would only serve to emphasize her husband’s absence if she didn’t. “Where’s your luggage?” she asked. “Let’s get you home so you can rest. You look exhausted.” So do you, he wanted to say, but he just smiled at her. It was obvious that the intervening years had taken their toll on her too. Adam led her toward the passengers who were sorting through the luggage, which was now sitting on the curb. He had no difficulty identifying his two suitcases. They bore little resemblance to the ones he’d purchased four years earlier at the Mercantile. They were now held together by rope and packaging tape, and both of them showed evidence of journeys they’d taken aboard buses, trains, ships, army trucks, jeeps, and, on one occasion, an Italian farmer’s hay cart.

Maude had no difficulty identifying her son’s luggage either. As she reached for one of the suitcases, Adam quickly intercepted her. “I’ve got them, Mom,” he said, picking up the suitcases and adjusting his grip on the sweat-stained leather handles.

“The truck’s parked in front of the dry cleaners,” Maude said, taking hold of his arm and leading him through the crowd.

Adam nodded to the bus driver, who gave him a thumbs-up gesture, and followed his mother down the sidewalk, answering her questions and asking a few of his own. He realized the words of greeting he practiced on the bus were unnecessary. He hoped it would be the same when he finally met his father. But somehow he doubted it.

As the farm came into view, Adam drew in a deep breath. The surrounding fields of wheat and barley, a vibrant green beneath a robin’s egg sky, were a pastoral setting of majesty and peacefulness. But in many ways, returning home was like riding into enemy territory. Several times during the war, he had run into an ambush and barely escaped with his life, using every skill possible to survive. Today he felt like there was no refuge. He could only proceed directly into the line of fire and hope for the best.

His mind raced wildly as the pickup truck rattled through the gate and stopped in front of the house. He reached for the door handle but hesitated, taking everything in one more time in case it suddenly vanished . . . like a dream upon awakening.

The farmyard had changed. The two-story, clapboard house looked tired and faded, and several shutters hung at odd angles. The veranda tilted slightly to the south, and the railing was missing several spindles. The pump out in the yard had only a stub of a handle, and the clothesline beside it sagged noticeably. The woodshed and the barn were badly weathered, and the poplar tree near the garden now held only remnants of the tree house that he and his father had built years earlier.

Perhaps the farmyard had always looked like this and he hadn’t noticed. But a fresh coat of paint would do wonders to hide the wrinkles and blemishes, and he resolved to paint every building before winter. He would shore up the clothesline, repair the front step, fix the shutters, replace the handle on the pump . . .

A burst of energy surged through him. He would make it up to his father by getting the farm back in shape. It would be like he had never left. He would show his father that he did care.

Maude put her hand on his. “Before we go in, there’s something I want to say. Despite your father not coming to meet you today, he does love you.”

Exhaling slowly, Adam turned toward her. “He has a funny way of showing it.”

“He has a hard time expressing his feelings sometimes, that’s all.”

“He didn’t write once in four years.”

Maude stared out of the truck window, focusing on nothing in particular. She seemed to be searching for the right words. “I can’t say I agree with how he’s handled things, son. And I’m not trying to make excuses for him. But it’s been hard on him too. I just wanted you to know that.” She patted Adam’s hand. “I just hope the two of you can let bygones be bygones.”

Adam leaned over and kissed his mother on the cheek. “You’re a good woman, Maude Carlson.”

She smiled in appreciation, but her smile faded as the barn door opened and her husband stepped out into the sunlight. She glanced over at her son, who squared his shoulders and pulled on the door handle.

Adam was struck by how much his father had aged. His hair was much thinner, and his sun-hardened, wrinkled skin was stretched like tanned hide on a pole frame. His complexion resembled buckskin, rough side out, and his leanness added a sharp edge to his features. A permanent scowl creased his fore- head, and his mouth sagged at the corners.

Hector remained motionless, as though he was a gargoyle guarding the farmyard. His expression looked equally sullen and fierce, and Adam slowly approached him. Staring down the enemy in the fields and streets of Italy had not been this hard.

Maude hurried toward her husband. “Hec, it’s our boy! Adam’s home!”

Adam studied his father’s face, looking for any sign of welcome . . . or forgiveness. But Hector’s granite-like countenance remained unchanged. Adam stopped several paces away and stood before his father like a disobedient child.

Hector met his son’s eyes momentarily, and then his gaze wandered over Adam’s uniform. The silence deepened and Adam felt the tension increase.

Maude narrowed her eyes. “Well, Hec, say something.”

Hector scratched his stubbled chin and cleared his throat. “They treat you okay?”

What a strange question, Adam thought. Was his father referring to the army or the enemy? In all honesty, neither of them had treated him well. The army had removed four years of his life with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, and the Germans had been far less subtle than that. They had tried to kill him.

Adam felt numb as the memories of the past four years flooded his heart, a trickle at first and then a gush. The experience had been more overwhelming than he ever expected. And with one question his father had reduced it to insignificance.

“You know I don’t agree with what you did,” Hector said. “But

I’m glad you didn’t go and get yourself killed.” Adam forced a smiled. “I’m glad I didn’t either.”

Maude looked anxiously from one to the other. “Hec, this calls for a feast of the fatted calf. Get some beet greens from the garden, and I’ll cook a roast with all the trimmings.”

Hector remained motionless.

She shooed him away from the barn. “You go on, now.” Embracing Adam, she said, “Go have a bath and get some rest, son. I’ll call you for dinner. There’s so much to talk about.”

Adam glanced at the retreating figure of his father and returned to the truck to get his luggage, aware that his mother was reverting to her proven formula for restoring peace on earth, good will toward men: a delicious meal. In the past, good food had settled more arguments in the family than had any line of reasoning, logic, or argument. The way to a man’s heart . . .

Teaser Tuesday | After All

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

His eyes narrowed . . . His jaw clenched and his face grew beet red. He glared and spewed a foul name at her. Then without warning, he blew a wad of spit at her. Warm saliva sprayed onto the front of her uniform and beaded on her bare forearm.

After All, Deborah Raney, page 186

I finished After All over the weekend and will be posting my review and *giving a copy away* soon!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl

Eyes of Justice
by Lis Wiehl with April Henry
Triple Threat series, Book 4
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Suspense
Available April 2012
Thomas Nelson
320 pages

About the Book
The Triple Threat Club has solved intense mysteries before . . . but this time it’s personal.

Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole fight for justice every day—Cassidy as a crime reporter, Nicole with the FBI, and Allison as a federal prosecutor. Together they're a Triple Threat to be reckoned with. But never have they faced a case so full of blind alleys—or so painfully close to home.

When a devastating turn of events upsets the balance of the Triple Threat team, they discover an ally in a quirky Private Investigator named Olivia. The women vow not to stop until the case is solved and justice is served.

Yet just when it appears the police have the killer in custody, he somehow strikes again. Not knowing who to trust, the Triple Threat women go undercover for an intricate and deadly cat-and-mouse game where nothing can be taken at face value . . . and nothing will ever be the same.

Success—or survival—isn’t assured in this riveting Triple Threat mystery that will leave readers both shocked and satisfied.

My Thoughts
Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl is the fourth installment of the Triple Threat series. While Cassidy, Nicole, and Allison have joined forces to solve cases before, one of the Triple Threat becomes a victim and the others will have to look past their personal grief in order to solve this crime.

As in other books in the series, this is an incredibly suspenseful story. The crime scenes and legal aspects are so realistic. It's obvious that the author really knows her stuff. As the plot develops and the tension builds, I kept trying to guess "whodunit." Lis does a great job at providing enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the last few pages.

While it's not necessary to have read the previous books in the series, it was nice to catch up again with Nicole, Allison, and Cassidy. Allison's crisis of faith was realistic, and I actually liked Nicole better than in previous books. The introduction of Ophelia, a private investigator, is a perfect addition to the team.

The one major draw-back (for me) to this series is that it is SO similar to James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series. I've made the comparison before but it seems that Wiehl is still tracking along with the major plotlines from Patterson's series. I would love to read some new, original stories if this series continues. Also, since this series is billed as Christian fiction, it bears mentioning that there is quite a bit of drinking mentioned throughout the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Lis Wiehl delivers a suspenseful novel that will you have you hanging on until the very last page.  [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Lis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators.  Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor.  She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School.  Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered.  Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives with her husband and two children in New York.

Lis Wiehl Online
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Revell Blog Tour | The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

The Ride of Her Life
by Lorna Seilstad
Lake Manawa Summers series, Book 3
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available May 2012
Revell Books
384 pages

About the Book
She's planted firmly on solid ground. He's ready to sweep her off her feet.

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six-year-old. Widowed for three years, Lilly has decided to leave the home of her intrusive in-laws to stand on her own. However, her in-laws find her new life as a cook at Lake Manawa utterly unsuitable for their grandson. When an argument ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. But Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Filled with the sweet romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life will have you laughing out loud and sighing contentedly as you spend the summer of 1906 at Lake Manawa.

My Thoughts
Widow Lilly Hart and her six-year-old son have moved to Lake Manawa for the summer. Lilly hopes that taking a job at a diner will not only provide for her and her son but also help her escape her overbearing in-laws. When her son befriends Nick, the roller coaster engineer, Lilly is determined to keep him at arms' length. But when Nick starts to get through her defenses, she must look to the Lord for guidance and wisdom.

What a wonderful story! Packed with romance, friends, and faith, The Ride of Her Life is a perfect read! Seilstad does a great job writing about characters that I felt an instant connection with. Lilly is a strong heroine who works hard for her family and is determined to provide a better life for her son than the one she had growing up. I appreciated her independence and stubborn streak—two things I often see in myself! She had a fantastic group of friends (introduced in the previous two books in the series) who loved her and were willing to do anything to help her. The romance factor between Nick and Lilly was sigh-worthy. There were a number of challenges that they faced throughout the story, and it was interesting to get both perspectives and see how they would resolve these conflicts. I loved how Nick related to Lilly's son and truly cared for him as well.

The backdrop of a summer resort was fascinating as well. As a roller coaster junkie, the storyline about the roller coaster was particularly intriguing. I could tell that the author did her research and expertly wove interesting details throughout the book.

I haven't read the first two books in the series but am looking forward to reading them as soon as I get a chance. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from Lorna Seilstad in the future!  [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Author
A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves and A Great Catch. She draws her setting from her home state of Iowa. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Lorna Seilstad Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Sunday Scripture

I love these verses from Philippians and can always use these reminders! May you be encouraged by God's Word today!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:4-8, ESV

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blogside Chat | Olivia Newport

Well, it's been a while since someone stopped by for a Blogside Chat and I'm thrilled to introduce you to Olivia Newport. I recently read and reviewed Olivia's debut novel The Pursuit of Lucy Banning—which was impressive! (Hop on over if you want to know more about the book or read my review.)

i blog 4 books: Olivia, welcome to i blog 4 books! Let's dive right in ... where did the idea for The Pursuit of Lucy Banning come from?
Olivia Newport: I have Chicago suburban roots, but I had not heard of the Prairie Avenue Historical District until a friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. As soon as my friend began his training, he saw the potential for the setting of a story. He is not a fiction writer, but he knew my interests. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.

ib4b: How was writing this story affected by the fact that you grew up near Chicago?

ON: Even as an adult, I’ve lived in the Chicago area for several stretches, and several siblings and their children live there. (Go Cubs!) When I was a child, visiting the Museum of Science and Industry was a wide-eyed experience for me. As a young mother, I took my kids there. I think of it as the Museum of Wonder and Curiosity. Then I discovered that the building itself was part of the 1893 world’s fair, the backdrop for my series. Little did I know I would grow up to write about events that took place in a building that held so much fascination for me.

ib4b: The World's Fair was one of my favorite parts of the book. :) Is any part of you sorry to be finished writing The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?

ON: Yes! I’ve been living with Lucy for three years now. I feel I know her well. Lucy has a part in the two stories to follow, and these are still in the editorial pipeline so I’ll have opportunities to visit with her again over the next few months. Beyond that, I have a picture of what happened in her life and know that she found happiness and meaning. And that brings me pleasure.

ib4b: Your book is layered with historical detail. Tell us about your research process.
ON: My docent friend, Stephen Reginald, is a history buff. He spits out the most interesting details sometimes, and before I know it, I am digging too. We both scoured the archives of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for headlines and language of the era. I looked for true events that serve as hooks in the stories. The Internet turns up all sorts of obscure books and historical accounts. One of my favorites was a first person travelogue written by someone who visited the world’s fair in 1893. Steve’s work at the Glessner House Museum opened a portal into diaries and museum pieces that helped me faithfully recreate the story’s setting.

ib4b: What impact did your research have on you personally?
ON: One of the most fun research pieces I uncovered was a guide to caring for young children published in 1894. The prevailing expert advice was not to play with a baby before he or she was four months old, preferably six! I love giving a copy of this book to new mothers. On the other end of the spectrum was heartbreaking information about the desperate needs of orphans during that time period. We may think we have more sophisticated system for addressing certain social issues, but we have a long way to go.

ib4b: Wow! It's interesting how things change. I can't imagine NOT playing with a baby until they're 4-6 months old. The orphan storyline was so interesting to me, and I was glad that you included that aspect of society. How do you see yourself in Lucy Banning’s story?
ON: I certainly have never been the daughter of a privileged family! However, Lucy Banning and I do share an infatuation with red velvet cake. More seriously, Lucy is looking for genuine meaning in her life, even if it means taking risks. I’d like to think I would do the same thing.

ib4b: Where do you like to write?
ON: I advocate writing by keeping your bottom in the chair, but I’m flexible about the kind of chair! Research happens at my desk where I can spread things out. Several years ago, in a thrift store, I found a wide, comfy recliner with a built-in massage feature. When I’m in serious get-words-on-the-screen mode rather than researching, I write in cushy comfort. However, I also think that writing is a consuming process, and I may solve a plot dilemma while I’m walking through the neighborhood or hear the perfect line of dialogue in my head while pulling weeds. When I’m immersed in a story, it’s hard to set it aside until I get it out of me. The writing follows me around as I go about my life.

ib4b: If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?
ON: A visitor to my office would see multiple attempts at organization, some of which are actually useful! I have several racks for folders and papers, and only I know what qualifies for which rack. I insist on colorful, fun folders. A couple of binders hold manuscripts in progress or research. I expect a visitor would be curious about the various notes I have taped up around my desk, some of which are information I refer to because I can’t remember otherwise, and some of which are inspiration, both to keep my writing on task and my heart in a settled place.

ib4b: How do you handle distractions?
ON: Classical music—no words—helps keep my brain in a productive gear. I have a big planner where I write notes so I can let go of information or an urge to do something for the moment. Being comfortable helps with distractions, in terms of the chair, lighting, and room temperature. Otherwise my body responds to every little bothersome sensation. And it’s amazing how effective it is to simply close the door on the household noise.

ib4b: When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?
ON: Writing a book does seem scary! I break things down. I don’t set out to write a novel. Rather, I set out to complete the next task that may become a part of the novel. The task may be working out a knot in the plot, or writing the next scene, or beefing up research. I focus on doing the next thing that needs doing.

ib4b: How do you choose between ideas you’d like to write about?
ON: That’s a great question, because I always have more ideas than time to write about them. I’ve had fun with the Avenue of Dreams series, which begins with The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, because I discovered a place I did not know about. That surprise factor launched my imagination. I’m sure I’ll be looking for the same experience in the future and be eager to pass it on to readers.

ib4b: And because we're all about books at i blog 4 books, what were some of your favorite books growing up?
ON: Mrs. Shiner ran the church library, and I wish every child had a Mrs. Shiner in her life. While I was a weekly visitor at the public library as well all through my childhood, I have strong memories of standing in the children's fiction section of the church library. I used to read books from a series that was old even then, I realize now, and I have not been able to track it down with the bits and pieces I remember. But it involved a set of triplets—two girls and a boy—who got into all kinds of adventures. I loved reading in the series because each book felt like a visit with old friends.

ib4b: What were the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
ON: As far as what I'm reading now, it's always hard for me to rank favorites! So I'll just tell you some of the latest. For suspense, I've been reading Erin Healy's books. The latest was The Baker's Wife and I'm looking forward to House of Mercy. I've also been reading the books of three authors I met online. We have banded together to support each other with our May 2012 debut novels. Check out Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert, Submerged by Dani Pettrey, and Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt.

ib4b: Ooh ... I read Wish You Were Here earlier this month, and Wildflowers from Winter and Submerged are in my TBR stack. :) Thanks so much for stopping by, Olivia! I had a great time getting to know you better and learning a little more about the background of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning!

Let me tell you, Olivia Newport is one busy lady! She's currently working on two series. Yep, you read that right—TWO!

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is the first book in the Avenue of Dreams series. The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (book 2) is scheduled to release in January 2013, and the third book will be released in September 2013.

Olivia's other series is the Valley of Choice series, which debuts with Accidentally Amish this October, followed by the second book in June 2013, and the last book at the end of 2013.

Makes me tired just thinking about it! If you're so inclined, leave a comment for Olivia and let her know if something in the interview struck you or if you enjoyed her book. I'm sure she'll appreciate the comments!

Olivia Newport Online
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All you have to do is answer three quick questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? Easy enough, right? Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl. I've been reading a ton of historical fiction this year and was itching to dive into some of the suspense novels that are waiting on me.
What did you recently finish reading? Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley. This was such a sweet, touching story! I'm really looking forward to reading the final book in the series to see how everything turns out.

What do you think you'll read next? Well, technically, I've already started this one, but I got distracted with Mary's Blessing and Eyes of Justice, but I'm about to dive back into The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson. I'm about 35 pages in and it's really interesting. Different (so far) than some of the other books I've read this month—in a good way!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Revell Blog Tour | A Love Forbidden by Kathleen Morgan

A Love Forbidden
by Kathleen Morgan
Heart of the Rockies series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available May 2012
Revell Books
320 pages

About the Book
They're from two different worlds. Can love cross the divide?

Moved by a compassionate heart and the desire for adventure, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainwright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado. Eager to use her skills to help improve the lives of Ute Indian children, she looks forward to a fulfilling, independent life on the Colorado frontier.

But her new job isn't what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian agent, and a demanding US government. Her unexpected encounter with a half-Ute childhood friend, Jesse Blackwater, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst spiraling tensions that threaten to explode into a catastrophic uprising.

Set amongst the wilds of the Colorado Rockies in 1879, this tale from bestselling and award-winning author Kathleen Morgan explores the transformational power of forgiveness, compassion, and God's healing love with artistry and authenticity.

My Thoughts
While I've seen quite a few Kathleen Morgan novels featured on other blogs, A Love Forbidden was first I've read by the author. I had high expectations for this book—frontier life, romance, Indians, what more could you want from a western? Sadly, I didn't enjoy the book as much as I hoped.

The book started off with a bang. Flashing back several years, we are introduced to Shiloh and Jesse. The scene is intense—Jesse is being whipped by some of the ranch hands on Shiloh's family ranch. The emotions of the scene are palpable and I was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, the plot slowed down after that and I had to really push myself to finish. The story did pick up again (around page 150), but it seemed to pick up in spurts and then slow back down again. I never really connected with the characters either. I liked Jesse and Shiloh but I wasn't very invested in them or their relationship. The end of the book seemed a bit rushed as well. I think a better pace for the story would have helped me enjoy it more.

While the other reviews that have been posted have been quite positive, this book just wasn't for me. I may try another series by this author but will most likely pass on the rest of this series. [2 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

About the Author
Kathleen Morgan is the award-winning author of many novels, including those in the bestselling Brides of Culdee Creek series. She lives in Colorado.

Kathleen Morgan Online
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Teaser Tuesday | Trauma Plan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

"We?" Jack flinched at Riley's response to his heart-level question. It had pretty much said it all: he was an idiot for coming here.

Trauma Plan, Candace Calvert, pg 198

It's just as good as I was anticipating! Love Candace Calvert!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

FB Party w/ Becky Wade - 5/24!

Celebrate with Becky by entering her My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 5/24!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™
  • A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
  • A copy of My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 24th. Winner will be announced at the "My Stubborn Heart" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/24. Becky will be hosting an book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of My Stubborn Heart and join Becky on the evening of the May 24th for a chance to meet Becky and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 24th!

LitFuse Blog Tour | My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

My Stubborn Heart
by Becky Wade
Christian Fiction / Contemporary
Available May 2012
Bethany House
352 pages

About the Book
Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded—hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

My Thoughts
Oh wow!!! I'm finding it hard to find the right words to express how amazing I thought this book was! My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade reads like some of my favorite romantic comedy movies. You know the ones I'm talking about—the ones starring Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Sandra Bullock—the ones you own and still watch every time they come on TV. This story features ordinary people with real problems in realistic situations and brings readers alongside the characters to struggle through every emotion and situation that comes up.

I absolutely fell in love with Kate and Matt. Kate is the kind of girl that would fit right in with my group of friends, and Matt is so . . . dreamy . . . the kind of guy every girl dreams of. And those crazy seniors! I know people just like them—and might be related to a few as well!

The dialogue flowed so naturally—although, I would probably have left out a few "crass" words/phrases—that it seemed as if you were eavesdropping on conversations rather than reading a book. The pace was perfect, as well, so that I had enough information to be entertained but enough was left unsaid to keep me turning the pages. The romance between Kate and Matt had me absolutely giddy at times, but I loved the way Kate was determined to trust God with their relationship. Such a great message throughout.

It's hard to believe that My Stubborn Heart is a debut novel. Becky Wade has rocketed to the top of my "favorites" list and I can't wait to see what's next!  [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House and LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Becky Wade is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas.

Becky Wade Online

Sunday, May 20, 2012

If Our God Is For Us

This song has been running through my mind for the last few days. Love the words and the verses they come from!

water you turned into wine
open the eyes of the blind
there's no one like you
none like you

into the darkness you shine
out of the ashes we rise
there's no one like you
none like you

our god is greater, our god is stronger
god you are higher than any other
our god is healer, awesome in power
our god, our god

into the darkness you shine
out of the ashes we rise
there's no one like you
none like you

our god is greater, our god is stronger
god you are higher than any other
our god is healer, awesome in power
our god, our god

and if our god is for us
then who could ever stop us
and if our god is with us
then what could stand against

our god is greater, our god is stronger
god you are higher than any other
our god is healer, awesome in power
our god, our god

and if our god is for us
then who could ever stop us
and if our god is with us
then what could stand against

and if our god is for us
then who could ever stop us
and if our god is with us
then what could stand against
then what could stand against *

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-39, ESV

* Lyrics: "Our God" from And If Our God Is For Us by Chris Tomlin
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